By Emily Senger - Monday, April 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Attacks did little real damage, officials claim
A few days after hacking North Korean state websites, Anonymous is at it again and this time its target is Israel.
Over the weekend, the online hacking group claimed that it had gained access to Israeli websites and said that it would “wipe Israel off the map of the Internet.” The sites affected included the Israel Police, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israel Securities Authority, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and the Central Bureau of Statistics. It also took credit for the country’s defence site being offline, reports CNET.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, October 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
From time to time I’ve argued that Julian Assange is an epic donkey whose ego, personal agenda, and lust for celebrity infamy supersede Wikileaks’ stated goal to “open governments.” Each time I’ve done so, I’ve been labelled an MSM (mainstream media) shill, an establishment hack working to discredit a disruptive but crucial voice. Whether these sentiments are expressed in comment sections or in emails to me, some invariably contain the phrase “We are Legion” and are signed, Anonymous.
Now, Anonymous (the amorphous Internet culture/movement often described as a “hacker group” ) has broken off with Wikileaks. Why? Because Julian Assange has opted to monetize the data he leaks. Millions of documents have been shoved behind a Wikileaks paywall. To see them, users are asked to whip out their credit cards and donate to Wikileaks (a.k.a. the Julian Assange legal defense fund). Another option is to tweet the donation form or post it to Facebook, in an attempt to take the fundraising campaign viral. It’s very tacky, it betrays Wikileaks’ mission, and it has pissed off Anonymous.
No one voice speaks for all of Anonymous, but the collective does have certain influential channels that dictate the mood of the horde. One of these, AnonymousIRC, broke with Wikileaks in a public statement:
[The Wikileaks mission] has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga….The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what Wikileaks has become – the One Man Julian Assange show.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:35 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday the massive Internet registrar/lowbrow advertiser GoDaddy went down, taking millions of web sites offline with it. Breaking news reports attributed the trouble to a hack by Anonymous. Later, these items were corrected to say that the hack was not the work of Anonymous as a whole, but that Twitter user @AnonymousOwn3r was claiming responsibility. Mashable called @AnonymousOwn3r ”the security leader of Anonymous,” which must be true because @AnonymousOwn3r calls themself “the security leader of Anonymous” on his or her Twitter profile (and an “official member” to boot). CNN went with the more measured description of @AnonymousOwn3r as “a person affiliated with Anonymous.”
By Rosemary Counter - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM - 0 Comments
A presumed-Canadian ‘Twilight’ fan fiction writer gets a seven-figure book deal—and a lot of attention
“Allow me to begin by thanking you for the invitation to join you and your readers,” author Sylvain Reynard writes in an email. This is not quite true. “S.R.,” as he is known (but never seen) around his publisher’s office, had his people reach out. Penguin Canada offered an interview with the curious, anonymous author, and only via email. The catch: they know nothing about him.
Here’s what we do know: last year Twilight fan fiction called The University of Edward Masen by Sebastien Robichaud popped up online. This S.R. has since disappeared from the web. The story reappeared as an ebook from Dallas-based Omnific Publishing called Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard.
Like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, Reynard’s novel features a love triangle between a too-pale, too-thin virgin, the kind boy-next-door she should date and the cold and damaged older man who dominates her. “I have a bad temper,” warns Reynard’s main character, professor Gabriel Emerson, “and when I lose my temper I can be very destructive.”
By Luke Simcoe - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM - 0 Comments
Less than a year and a half ago, the world received a lesson in how vulnerable the contemporary Internet is to top-down control. Faced with ongoing protests organized in large part through social media, the government of Egypt simply turned off the country’s Internet.
As we all know, the move backfired. It let the rest of the world see how authoritarian the Mubarak regime was and caused countless free speech groups–including Anonymous–to rally behind the protesters in Tahrir Square. To this day, the chart showing the country’s Internet traffic all but disappear remains one of the most iconic images of the Arab Spring.
It was also a stark reminder that the Internet is indeed a series of tubes. And whoever controls those tubes, controls the Internet. Even here in Canada, much of the country’s traffic moves through an Internet exchange point. Shut that down, and Canadians would be left in the digital dark.
In the wake of Mubarak’s decision to hit the kill switch, it seems that a number of activists have begun to rethink their approach to net neutrality. No longer content to lobby those who control the existing Internet, they’re trying to create a new one. Whether it’s the “Freedom Towers” that could be found at various Occupy protests, or Reddit users’ Darknet plan, there’s an increasing push towards developing decentralized mesh networks as an alternative to the now-centralized Internet.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
Is anything on the Internet more misunderstood than Anonymous?
Call them a “group” or “hackers,” or “cyber-activists,” or “cyber-terrorists,” and you’ll be mostly wrong and totally reductive. They’ve been more accurately described as a “culture,” an “idea,” or a “phenomenon,” but those all seem kind of flaky and much too flattering. Anonymous defies description and classification by design, tying those of us who aim to understand them into knots. Good for them!
For real insight into Anonymous, I turn to Gabriella Coleman, a McGill professor who approaches them as the subject of anthropological study. Writing this week for Al Jazeera, Coleman aims to clear up some sloppy thinking about Anonymous, while putting forward a reasoned defence of their value. Her piece is combatively titled “Everything you know about Anonymous is wrong.”
By Luke Simcoe - Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
Lately, it seems you can’t swing a LOLcat by its tail without hitting some public official flaunting their ignorance of the Internet. We’ve seen everything from Vic Toews trying to haul Anonymous before the Canadian Parliament to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly claiming that “the Internet is the new Afghanistan.”
Not wanting to miss out on the party, legislators in Arizona recently tried to make it illegal to say mean things online. Two weeks ago,the state senate unanimously passed Arizona House Bill 2549, which reads:
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
Regardless of the fact that we shouldn’t be legislating civility, or that the right to be as asinine and hyperbolic as possible is one of the basic tenets of the Internet, the law had “First Amendment violation” written all over it. The language was overly broad, and no definition of terms like “annoy” or “offend” was given, meaning the bill could have criminalized being a jerk in the comments section of a website.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM - 0 Comments
They never forgive, they never forget. Vic Toews should expect them.
Our Public Safety Minister painted a giant digital bullseye on himself today by continuing his silly crusade against an organization that doesn’t really exist. “Anonymous,” he told a Parliamentary committee, “is a threat to us all”. You could almost hear the lulz.
One has to feel a bit sorry for Toews. Few middle-aged technology neophytes have so successfully summoned the dregs of the Internet as Toews did when he told Canadians that they either stood with his Internet snooping bill or they stood “with the child pornographers”. Quicker than you could say “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,” Toews was dealing with a tell-all Twitter account and a threatening ultimatum video from Anonymous. In it, Toews is asked to withdraw Bill C-30 and resign, or face the consequences.
As it turned out, the @vikileaks30 Twitter account was the partisan work of a Liberal staffer, who fumbled the ball by accessing his account through a Parliamentary computer. He was traced, exposed and forced to resign. Emboldened, Toews is now pursuing a far more nebulous foe- the “group” that posted that nasty video. He doesn’t know how to proceed, but asks for the help of the police and of “experts” to help him gain satisfaction. He won’t get it, but may end up with more than he asked for.
My instinct is to mock, but instead, I will educate. Vic, if you’re reading, here’s how it works:
- Anonymous is not a group. There’s no clubhouse, no membership fees, no secret handshake. Anyone can drop in and participate for a moment and then leave without a trace. Members have no persistent identities, even to each other. Anonymous is better described as an online culture. Or just, y’know, this thing that happens.
- The threatening ultimatum that scared you so might have been whipped up in 10 minutes by a 10 year old. As chilling as they seem, these “official” Anonymous videos are trivial to make, often created by inputting a few sentences into a text-to-speech program and laying it over stock footage with scary movie-trailer music. Thousands of these videos have been created, lobbing threats at everyone from NATO to Justin Bieber .
- Usually nothing happens as a result of these videos. Each is a piece of bait, and most wriggle away on the hook and die un-nibbled. But if a target responds and throws some punches into the air- then it’s on. The more high-profile the victim, the bigger their response; the more attention it gets, the better.
- Video “operations” then become full-on “raids,” and soon thousands of faceless goons the world over come at you with whatever they can. This usually means hacking, mockery, and sending pizzas to your house. It can feel like you’re under physical attack, but it’s usually all just zeros and ones. Ignore it, and it goes away. Lean into it, and it never ends.
- Fighting Anonymous is impossible by design, but it’s funny to Anonymous when someone tries. The more laughs (lulz) a target creates, the longer a raid lasts.
This could be a long one.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Last week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews rose in the House to claim that videos posted by individual(s) claiming to be with Anonymous had violated his rights as a Member of Parliament.
The Speaker has now ruled this morning that the videos do constitute a prima facie question of privilege. Here is the prepared text of his ruling. Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM - 0 Comments
In today’s National Post, Andrew Coyne ponders the sudden “hysteria” that has erupted around Vic Toews’ Lawful Access legislation. Why has this Internet snooping bill suddenly inspired so much debate, controversy and activity, when a near-identical version introduced in 2005 by the Liberals was barely discussed?
After considering all possibilities, Coyne nails it: it’s the Internet, stupid. But here’s what he gets wrong: “The Internet” does not exist. Teh Internets (sic) do. Coyne considers the value of “the online community as a political force.” Interchangeably, he refers to this community as “anonymous… digital vigilantes.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 8:28 AM - 0 Comments
A second video purported to be from Anonymous has been released.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs Police, on the other hand, apparently supports C-30, but it’s unclear how either side will be able to use this to bolster their respective arguments. The Harper government might appreciate the endorsement of its legislation, but it previously chose to ignore the CACP’s support for the long-gun registry. The opposition might disagree with C-30, but it still champions the CACP’s support for the long-gun registry as an important consideration.
Meanwhile, Michael Geist again offers some solutions.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Public Safety Minister talks to The House and acknowledges that “fair-minded” people might conclude he might have overstated himself. The Globe reviews the Twitter controversy. And a video suggests Anonymous is threatening to get involved.
Anonymous has a serious track record in this regard.
By Jesse Brown - Monday, October 31, 2011 at 1:31 PM - 5 Comments
Anonymous, the malevolent Internet culture sometimes described as a group of hackers, has set sights on Los Zetas, a major cartel active in Mexico’s bloody drug wars.
In a recent YouTube upload, Los Zetas is accused by a masked Anon of kidnapping one of Anonymous’ members in Veracruz, in southern Mexico, during “Operation Paperstorm,” a worldwide “raid” in which members were encouraged to cover their respective hometowns in flyers supporting Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Continue…
By Cigdem Iltan - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 2 Comments
The hacker group’s hit list has grown to include Arab dictatorships and opponents of WikiLeaks
Gone, for Anonymous, are the days of aimless Internet hijinks. The hacker group, once a loosely knit group of cyber-pranksters that formed in 2003, has traded prank pizza deliveries and shock humour for high-profile attacks on authoritarian regimes. The community now attracts both political activists and hackers alike to campaigns targeting everyone from Arab dictatorships to opponents of WikiLeaks.
Last week, Anonymous carried out its latest offensive on an Arab government, when hackers swapped content on the Syrian Ministry of Defence website with a message calling on protesters to take down President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has killed an estimated 1,700 citizens since uprisings began five months ago. In June, the group claimed responsibility for revealing the passwords of hundreds of Bahraini, Egyptian, Moroccan and Jordanian government officials’ email accounts. And during the early stirrings of the Tunisian revolution in January, Anons (as the group’s adherents are known) created care packages that included instructions on how to conceal identities online and developed a script to help bloggers and news sources dodge a government-led phishing campaign. “It is simply impossible to list all countries that need help,” the maturing collective proclaimed on the @AnonymousIRC Twitter account on Aug. 9. “We try our best.”
Other recent targets include businesses that withdrew their services from WikiLeaks when, in December, the organization released secret diplomatic cables, and the Orlando, Fla., Chamber of Commerce, after members of the group Food Not Bombs were arrested for feeding the city’s homeless, against local laws. But the clandestine computer hacking group wasn’t always so interested in altruism. While Anons have maintained that their work is ultimately motivated by freedom of speech and anti-censorship ideals, it grew out of the notorious 4Chan message boards: an Internet repository for lolcats, anime and multiple genres of porn.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
Hackers say Facebook is selling user information to oppressive regimes
The group of self-avowed ‘hacktivists’ known as Anonymous (also allegedly responsible for hacking PayPal and Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency) have released a video on YouTube in which they promise to “kill Facebook” on November 5. Anonymous says it is carrying out the operation—dubbed “Operation Facebook”—
because the social networking site compromises its users’ privacy, and sells user information to spy agencies in oppressive regimes, such as Egypt and Syria. 1.2 million people have watched the YouTube video so far, which was uploaded on July 16. Anonymous also announced via Twitter, that not all members within the group are involved in “Operation Facebook”.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
‘Anonymous’ not living up to their name
Federal investigators raided the New York homes of three suspected members of the hackers’ group Anonymous on Tuesday, according to Fox News. Anonymous, a loose collection of online activists, has claimed responsibility for a number of cyber attacks against companies including Visa and MasterCard. More than ten FBI agents searched the home of Giordani Jordan in Baldwin, N.Y. at around 6 a.m. They removed at least one laptop. Two other houses were also searched. All three suspects are in their late teens or 20s.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
Aaron Crayford was a high school hacker who attacked the Pentagon’s computers, got caught by the FBI, and wasn’t allowed to touch a computer for a decade. His digital exile ended a few years ago, and now he makes a chat app called Mighty. Last week he offered some advice on TechCrunch to the new generation of hackers, those high-profile no-goodniks of Anonymous and LulzSec. His message: don’t hack ‘em, join ‘em. In his words:
“What Lulzsec and Anonymous don’t realize is these companies aren’t their enemies…there is a much more difficult system to hack…becoming the guy at the head of the board. So when you’re the 40-something-year-old CEO who hears that some kid, some guy in his garage, is tearing your product apart and doing amazing things with it that is hitting your top line revenue…go find that guy, pay him and let’s see what he can do…That’s a real hack worth touting and it ends with you sleeping in a king-sized bed in a mansion on the hill and few can claim it’s been done before.”
I guess that’s also advice for the brass at Sony (and the CIA and PBS and the CPC). But you get the idea: change the system from within and get rich doing it. It’s not the most original idea—hackers have been switching sides and trading black hats for white for years. It’s got a certain poetry to it and is a genuine win-win; for companies, who better to employ than the geeks who would otherwise destroy them? And for the hackers, well, at some point most will take a paycheque over lulz.
But there’s more to it than that. In the case of LulzSec, their tweets and taunts describe something of a manifesto. To summarize, they hack for two reasons: (1) Lulz (duh). And (2) to teach us a lesson about entrusting private companies with our information. LulzSec sez:
“Do you feel safe with your Facebook accounts, your Google Mail accounts, your Skype accounts? What makes you think a hacker isn’t silently sitting inside all of these right now, sniping out individual people, or perhaps selling them off? You are a peon to these people.”
As “grey hat” hackers, Lulzsec, I have argued, provide a public service. They infiltrate systems for fun, not profit, and then they brag about it. Sometimes they publicly dump the data they’ve scraped, just to prove that they have it. In doing so, they hope to humiliate companies into fixing vulnerabilities, and to teach the public a lesson about protecting personal data. The first part is working. The second part isn’t.
After years of breathless, fear-mongering news coverage about the scourge of hackers, the public still doesn’t give a whit about Internet security. No one is really afraid of getting hacked, because so few have paid a tangible price for it. Yes, hacks happen all the time. They’ve happened to me—I had a few thousand dollars mysteriously disappear from my bank account. Did I destroy my bank cards, leave all my social networks and line my hat with tinfoil? No, I called my bank and they reimbursed the cash in 24 hours.
It’s true that no computer system is 100% secure, but neither is any bank. The credit card industry, the insurance industry—both suffer billions of dollars of fraud every year. But all the above make enough profit to absorb these losses easily, and the public continues to use their services. So goes Internet security. The lesson hackers keep trying to teach the public will never be learned.
So what will the real outcome of this new wave of hacking be on the public? An erosion of their digital rights. We can expect more government surveillance of the Internet and harsher penalties for “cyber-crimes.”
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 5 Comments
A rash of high-profile thefts reveals just how unsafe the Internet we depend on has become
Visitors to the Conservative Party of Canada’s website last Tuesday were confronted with a shocking message: the Prime Minister had been rushed to hospital in Toronto after choking on a hash brown. Media outlets scrambled to unearth more details about the breakfast-hour emergency only to learn that it was all a big joke. The party’s website had been hacked.
It didn’t take long to find out who was behind the prank. A group calling itself LulzRaft claimed responsibility on Twitter, and later followed up by breaking into the party’s donor database and posting names and emails of more than 5,000 people online. Why did they do it? “The Conservative party was really just a hack of opportunity,” wrote someone purporting to be the hacker in an anonymous email to Maclean’s. “We noticed the vulnerability and realized we could easily create some lulz, and draw some media attention without hurting anyone.” For the uninitiated, “lulz” is Web-slang for laughs—derived from the abbreviation LOL, for “laugh out loud.”
But the Tories aren’t laughing. Nor should they be. It’s an embarrassing breach of security for a governing party that, just a few months earlier, assured Canadians that it had a cyber-security strategy in place. It’s also the latest in a string of brazen attacks on high-profile targets around the globe, ranging from Sony Corp. and Google Inc. to defence contractor Lockheed Martin and the International Monetary Fund. In addition to attention-seekers like LulzRaft, experts say many more hackers are quietly working on behalf of organized crime and even foreign governments—so much so that Washington is now talking about cyberattacks as a potential “act of war.”
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM - 52 Comments
Kremlin-affiliated hackers launched a crippling cyberattack against Estonia. Hackers routinely flood the comment sections of news sites that criticize the government and spread lies to discredit the journalists who write them. When opposition parties plan rallies, hackers spread misinformation, confusing supporters with false dates and meeting places. Similar shenanigans take place in China, where PRC-linked hackers tried to infiltrate Google in retaliation for the search engine’s criticism of government censorship.
These Russian and Chinese hackers are little more than digital thugs- bullying, threatening, silencing and discrediting anyone who is deemed an enemy of the State, or of State-affiliated businesses and institutions. They are never directly on the government payroll and are kept at an arm’s length distance for the sake of plausible deniability. They are compensated by intermediaries of intermediaries through tangled systems of kickbacks and payoffs.
As goonish as the whole practice may seem, through a certain lens it must be appreciated as a clever new kind of censorship. In Egypt or Iran, governments simply tried to shut off the Internet when faced with dissent. Such ham-fisted acts merely strengthened the resolve of revolutionaries while attracting international rebuke. Much subtler then to have your agents use a cocktail of digital dirty-tricks to muddy the waters and murder reputations.
You may think such a thing could never happen in the U.S., and you may be right. But it almost did.
If you haven’t yet heard of the HBGary scandal (and if you like spy novels), you should check out these fantastic reports by Nate Anderson of Ars Technica. This is a complicated story and it’s still unfolding as thousands of hacked emails are scrutinized, but the basics suggest that a private cybersecurity firm called HBGary Federal proposed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and to Bank of America a dirty-tricks campaign, in order to thwart their enemies (labour unions, non-profits, and Wikileaks, who are expected to soon release incriminating information about the Bank of America). The proposed tactics include:
- Misinformation campaigns
- Phishing emails
- Fake social network accounts
- “Disrupting” journalists who are sympathetic to Wikileaks
- Intimidating financial donors who support Wikileaks
Ironically, these hacking schemes were exposed by hackers. HBGary’s website was attacked after its CEO picked a public fight with the Internet entity Anonymous. Anonymous discovered major insecurities in the security firm’s website, and was able to steal and leak and thousands of HBGary emails, which expose the details recounted above. The U.S. Department of Justice is tangentially involved, as they recommended to the Chamber of Commerce the law firm that in turn hired HBGary. It’s highly unlikely that the DoJ had any direct knowledge of HBGary’s plans. It’s also important to note that there is no evidence that the Chamber of Commerce or Bank of America signed-off on HBGary’s proposals.
But then, I doubt that Vladimir Putin signed-off on the cyberattack against Estonia. The point of pro-government hackers is that they get results for their masters without implicating them.
If HBGary’s foolish CEO hadn’t picked a fight with Anonymous, who knows how far he might have gone?
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 11 Comments
A Q&A with the orthodox Stratfordian about Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud and other non-believers
James Shapiro is a Shakespearean scholar at Columbia University in New York, an orthodox Stratfordian—meaning he believes that the plays and sonnets commonly ascribed to William Shakespeare were indeed written by him and not by the 17th Earl of Oxford or Christopher Marlowe or any of a good dozen pretenders to the throne. Shapiro’s Contested Will is an eye-opening account of an authorship dispute now 150 years old. He spoke with Senior Writer Brian Bethune:
Q: Looking at the issue historically, does it seem plain to you that the authorship controversy is a theological quarrel?
A: Exactly, and at every level. Academics have veered away from religion in Shakespeare’s time—except for the not very helpful issue of whether he was Protestant or Catholic—because they would have to face the very religious language that runs through Shakespeare studies, and the authorship dispute. Look at Delia Bacon’s religious crisis just as she first launched Francis Bacon’s claims, or the way the contemporary interest in historical Jesus scholarship and the doubts that it raised about Christ, figured in hers and others’ thinking about Shakespeare. “Heresy” is not a word I used myself in the book, but it was the language used by critics then when choosing sides on the true author— “heresy” or “my confession of faith”—or Garrick calling his three-day festival a “Jubilee.” And the early forgeries were clearly relics—when William-Henry Ireland produced the documents, believers would kiss them.
Q: Once Shakespeare was deified people began to feel the man from Stratford wasn’t large enough—not sufficiently high-born, well-travelled or educated—for the scale of his achievement. Devotees started mining his works, which is all they had, for hints. And not just the heretics?
A: The orthodox are sinners too, if I can keep up the language. What I really wanted to do was point out how dangerous, if seductive, it is to deduce facts from Shakespeare’s imagination. The assumptions of Stratfordians are so close to what the doubters say—that we can find the life in the works—that Shakespeare professors should ask themselves some hard questions. We all draw inferences from Shakespeare’s imagination, and turn them into articles of faith, when it’s just the power of his imagination. We now know a lot about him, but still not what we want to know: what was in his heart. That’s the problem.
Q: You neatly show how the dispute is a dialogue of the deaf with the response to one of the newest pieces of evidence.
A: You mean the margin note in Camden’s Britannica? Yes, here’s a brief description of Stratford, printed in 1590, that mentions two distinguished citizens [a bishop and a judge] and an early 17th-century local vicar made a margin note, adding Shakespeare as a third eminent son. To me this is proof of Shakespeare’s early fame; to the man who discovered it, a committed Oxfordian, it just shows how early the plot to disguise Oxford’s authorship had taken root!! It’s pointless to try to discuss this, given the radically different assumptions about it.
Q: The anti-Stratfordian cause has attracted a lot of prominent authors and thinkers. What did you make of their arguments?
A: Mark Twain is the only one I came out of this with diminished respect for. Here’s a guy who re-invented himself down to his own name, who hired a—I made up this term, which I hope works—a stunt-writer to go to the South African gold fields for him and gather “experience.” Though as it turned out, Twain couldn’t use it, because the stunt guy died on the way home of blood poisoning after stabbing himself in the mouth with a fork—you can’t make this stuff up. But after doing all that himself, Twain simply dismissed Shakespeare’s imagination, saying no glove-maker’s son could write these plays about royalty and aristocracy. Of course, Twain also came to think Queen Elizabeth was a man.
Q: What about Freud?
A: I adored Freud. Still do, but on his Oxford belief …. Freud hinged his whole Oedipus Complex theory on Hamlet, and the accepted notion that John Shakespeare [William’s father] had died just before it was written, so that the entire unconscious Oedipal longing came pouring out of William. When doubt was cast on whether John died before or after Hamlet, Freud’s response essentially was “Well, show me somebody whose father died before.”
Q: As the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death—with all its attendant hoopla—approaches in 2016, how is the marathon faring? Who is the leading contender for Hamlet’s creator?
A: Putting Shakespeare himself aside for a moment, Oxford still leads the field, though Christopher Marlowe—a former contender who faded—is catching up. Go to Westminster Abbey and look at Marlowe’s grave. In 2002, his death date of 1593—and he needs to be alive long after that to be Shakespeare—suddenly spouted a question mark. If the administrators of Poets’ Corner could be convinced of that, which is utterly denied by the surviving original document of the Elizabethan inquest that examined his death, who knows what could follow. Next year comes Anonymous, directed by Roland Emmerich, of all people, which will plug the Oxford cause. In the rock-paper-scissors world of pop culture, movie beats book, and this film may well be a Emmerich disaster movie for Shakespeare teachers.
Q: In Contested Will, you make an overwhelming case that William Shakespeare was exactly who his contemporaries thought he was, the imaginative genius who wrote the plays bearing his name. What else can you and other Stratfordians do?
A: My next book will be on Shakespeare in 1606. We too often accommodate what the doubters stress—and which has become the popular concept—of Shakespeare as an Elizabethan only. He was a Jacobean too, who wrote many of his greatest plays in King James’s reign, long after Marlowe and Oxford died. I will show the Jacobean influence in taste, style and performance place. We as a profession don’t teach Shakespeare enough in a historically conscious way. That’s what we need to do.
By Alex Shimo - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 2:20 PM - 47 Comments
The website behind those cute cat photos has a darker side
In December 2007, Chris Forcand was arrested in his Toronto apartment and charged with luring an underage girl, possessing a dangerous weapon and other related offences. Forcand, then 53, had posted nude photos of himself in Internet chat rooms and tried to proposition young girls. After some of those lurid conversations were sent to members of his church, Toronto police’s Child Exploitation Section was called in. Forcand was later sentenced to 12 months. The cyber-vigilantes who uncovered his activities and brought about the arrest did not reveal their identities. But subsequent reports linked them to the Internet group Anonymous, which grew out of a message board site, 4chan.org, that is arguably one of the odder places you’ll find online.
If you’ve never heard of 4chan, you’re probably still aware of some of its actions. Its users have created some of today’s most popular Internet memes, such as Rickrolling, which blasts people’s computer screens with a link to the Rick Astley song Never Gonna Give You Up, and lolcats, those photos of cutesy felines accompanied by broken English captions like “I can has Cheezburger?” (itself an irritating slang called lolspeak). Remember the buzz about the Chocolate Rain song, by Tay Zonday? Its popularity partly stemmed from a joke—channers decided to boost its ratings because of its absurd lyrics and melody; it was eventually covered by John Mayer and others. With more than 300 million page views per month, 4chan can create news simply on the basis of size. When something becomes a trend on the site, it will likely hit your computer screen soon, explains Tim Hwang, a research associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.